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Investigation of the chromate conversion coating on Alclad 2024 aluminium alloy: effect of the pH of the chromate bath

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Author: Campestrini, P. · Westing, E.P.M. van · Hovestad, A. · Wit, J.H.W. de
Publisher: Elsevier
Place: Amsterdam
Institution: TNO Industrie
Source:Electrochimica Acta, 7, 47, 1097-1113
Identifier: 236442
Keywords: Chemistry · Impedance · Atomic force microscopy · Chromate coatings · Corrosion protection · Corrosion resistance · Ellipsometry · pH effects · Scanning electron microscopy · Spectroscopic analysis · Substrates · Conversion coatings · Aluminum alloys


The parameters of the chromate bath, like temperature, pH, and fluoride content, strongly affect the morphology and chemical composition of the chromate conversion coating and as a consequence have a large influence on its corrosion performance. In this paper, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) was used in combination with other techniques to investigate the role played by the pH of the chromate bath on the properties of the chromate film formed on Alclad 2024 aluminium alloy. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM) and spectroscopic ellipsometry (SE) have shown the formation of a thicker and less dense chromate layer when the pH of the chromate bath is changed from 2.4 to 1.2. The analysis of the EIS spectra have highlighted that this change in pH leads to the formation of more protective and more resistant chromate corrosion products (CCP) inside the defects of the chromate film. When a thin, dense and protective layer of CCP is formed in the defects, the corrosion behaviour of the chromate conversion coating improves for two main reason: (a) further attack of the defects is avoided or delayed; (b) the change in volume caused by the formation of the CCP is limited resulting in a low level of stress in the film, which as a consequence is not detached from the aluminium substrate.